Constraining the Origin of Surface Activity on the Sun: The case for high resolution observations
Hannah Schunker



We are in a unique position with current, and near-future, telescopes and space missions to make significant progress towards constraining the solar dynamo problem. Our recent results suggest that convection is a key component in the emergence process of the larger scale active regions, a critical signal of the global dynamo. Measured flux emergence rates suggest that the broad spatial scales of activity originate from the same physical process. In addition to the global dynamo, we expect a local dynamo to be operating near the surface of the Sun on small spatial scales, however current high resolution observations of the solar surface has not revealed a clear signature of the local dynamo. Therefore, we need higher resolution observations of the surface magnetic field and surface velocities to constrain the physical mechanism linking all emergence events. Additionally, the subsurface structure of established active regions can provide clues that can help us understand their origin. Our earlier research demonstrated that interpreting the results from helioseismology, the only tool that can probe the subsurface structure of the Sun, is difficult because the waves have been strongly perturbed by strong surface magnetic fields. In sunspots, we believe the perturbation is caused by the waves undergoing mode conversion. The mechanism causing the wave perturbations in the plage is more poorly constrained. To make progress we need higher spatial resolution observations to resolve the vector magnetic field structure. Understanding the physics of wave propagation in the different regions of strong surface magnetic field will help us to constrain the transfer of energy via waves from the interior to the corona, interpret the helioseismic signature to correctly infer the subsurface structure, and may be used rather ambitiously to infer surface activity on distant Sun-like stars.